1 May was seen as the first day of summer and had its roots in ancient celebrations of fertility. It was celebrated with special processions, plays and pantomimes, pageants, Morris dancing and the crowning of a May Queen. There would also be a Maypole, a tall wooden pole decorated with greenery and flowers and hung with ribbons. People would hold the ribbons and dance around the Maypole weaving the ribbons together in patterns.
People would also “bring in the May”, i.e. collect flowers and branches to make garlands and wreaths.
Many of these traditions are still enjoyed in the UK today.
N’ere cast a clout till May is out.
This warning is borne out today in the South of France when thunderstorms and hail are forecast and it is cold.